Express News Service

KOLKATA: Armed with the state health department’s report revealing either zero or negligible Covid-19 cases in seven Assembly constituencies where by-elections are yet to be held, the ruling Trinamool Congress has decided to approach the Election Commission seeking immediate by-polls.

“By-elections in Bengal are important to us because Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee will have to get elected within six months and the deadline is November 5. Now, BJP is playing the dirty game of trying to postpone the by-polls citing Covid-19 pandemic to force the CM to resign,” a senior TMC leader said.

Jangipur, Shamsherganj and Shantipur Assembly constituencies recorded zero Covid-19 cases and Bhowanipore, Khardah, Gosaba and Dinhata have recorded only one or two Covid cases daily for the past few days.

The poll panel has already asked all political parties to share their opinions on whether by-elections can be conducted considering the present pandemic situation. 

TMC sources said the BJP leadership in Bengal have already decided to oppose the by-elections citing the Covid-19 pandemic and say the poll panel’s decision to seek the opinion of all political parties may delay the process.

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In Bengal, 600 to 700 Covid positive cases are being reported every day and the daily death toll has come down to 8-10. Two months ago, the scenario was grim as the state used to record 1700 to 2,000 new Covid cases every day and the number of daily deaths used to be between 35 and 45.

CM Mamata had been defeated in Nandigram by her former lieutenant Suvendu Adhikari, who defected to the BJP ahead of the Assembly elections. She is supposed to contest from Bhowanipore Assembly constituency, her erstwhile seat from where she was elected in 2011 and 2016.

After coming to power for third straight term, Mamata had blamed the BJP and the poll panel for the spike in Covid infections in the state that she said was caused by the decision to conduct the Assembly elections in eight phases.

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“All BJP heavyweights visited Bengal every day and addressed mega rallies during the election in which Covid protocols were grossly flouted. Now the situation is much better and under control but the BJP is trying to play a new trick to force the CM to resign,” a TMC leader said.

BJP leaders in Bengal have decided to stick to their stance. “Hundreds of people are still getting infected every day in the state and experts are warning about the third wave. We are against by-election at this hour of crisis,” said a BJP leader.